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OWINGS MILLS — The contrasting personalities of Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick and Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy offers an interesting character study.
While Billick is outspoken with a booming voice and a tendency to use profanity during games, especially when officials’ calls don’t go his way, Dungy has built a reputation for his calmness and relatively quiet nature in the noisy world of the NFL.
â€œIt takes a lot of work and patience,â€ said Dungy, who brings his Colts (13-4) to face the Ravens (13-3) in Saturdayâ€™s AFC divisional playoff game. â€œItâ€™s something Iâ€™ve worked on. I certainly wasnâ€™t like that when I was younger as a player. But the farther Iâ€™ve gotten along, Iâ€™ve realized that itâ€™s important to keep your composure.
â€œI think some of it is personality type. Some of it is Christian maturity. You grow into your demeanor as time goes on. Maybe itâ€™s outward, but itâ€™s not necessarily inward calm.â€
Dungy, 51, whoâ€™s 63-24 in his five seasons in Indianapolis, endured a tragic personal blow last season when his teenage son, James, committed suicide. Despite the tragedy, Dungy returned to coach while grieving his sonâ€™s death and conducted himself with a strength and perspective that drew nationwide admiration.
â€œI canâ€™t say it enough, heâ€™s one of the greatest men — never mind coaches — men that I know,â€ Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney said. â€œItâ€™s just the fact that through adversity, through any type of situation or issue, he doesnâ€™t panic. He doesnâ€™t hit that panic button.
â€œWe are what we do every day. Heâ€™s not a scream guy, heâ€™s not a yell guy. For the most part, if heâ€™s yelling, there is something desperately wrong. At the end of the day, man, he has a lot of confidence in the guys who are out there and we have confidence in him as a coach.â€
Dungy coached on the same Minnesota Vikings staff with Billick from 1992 to 1995 with Dungy running the defense and Billick setting records as an offensive coordinator, and enjoyed competing with each other during spirited practice sessions.
â€œI learned a great deal from Tony Dungy,â€ Billick said. â€œWatching Tony prepare during my first coordinating experience as a pro coach, there are fundamental beliefs I have now in the way we prepare. I owe Tony a great deal in that regard.â€
MODELL BID DENIED: Former Ravens majority owner Art Modell wasn’t named a finalist for the NFL Hall of Fame balloting to be conducted the week of the Super Bowl. Modell has been a finalist in the past, but didnâ€™t make the cut to 17 on Wednesday that includes NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue and former Washington Redskins wide receiver Art Monk.
Sports Illustrated NFL writer Peter King, who has voted for Modell in the past but didnâ€™t this year, rationalized his decision by saying there were many deserving players in this yearâ€™s class. King said the only management candidate he voted for was Tagliabue.
TRAINING ROOM: The Ravens added outside linebacker Adalius Thomas to the injury report with an ankle injury, listing him as probable. Safety Gerome Sapp (back) was upgraded to probable. Offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden (toe) practiced for the second consecutive day without incident, but remains questionable. Heâ€™s still limping noticeably. Right guard Keydrick Vincent, whoâ€™s questionable with a recurring groin pull, reiterated that heâ€™s going to play.
â€œIâ€™m a little rusty, but Iâ€™m getting my mobility back step by step,â€ Vincent said. â€œIâ€™m feeling pretty good.â€
IMITATING FREENEY: To simulate Colts defensive end Dwight Freeneyâ€™s upfield speed rush, safety Ed Reed took turns lining up across from offensive tackles Tony Pashos and Adam Terry after practice.
â€œEd is so compact and fast that it really helps you get prepared for the Colts’ speed at defensive end,â€ Pashos said. â€œThat’s huge."
ROAD SLIDE: The Colts have lost their past four road games, and Baltimore is 7-1 at M&T Bank Stadium this year. The Colts were 28-8 on the road from 2002 prior to this skid.
â€œWeâ€™ve won in tough venues before,â€ Dungy said. â€œI donâ€™t think we fear going on the road. Weâ€™ve just got to find a way to play at that high level.â€
QUICK HITS: Billick declared the Ravens as eager for kickoff to arrive following the bye. â€œThey are ready to play,â€ he said. â€œWith the bye, the time we have put into it, the week is getting a little long for us. We canâ€™t get to this game quick enough.â€ â€¦ Billick, a Bill Walsh disciple who used to work for the San Francisco 49ers, acknowledged some similarities between Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice and Colts All-Pro wideout Marvin Harrison. â€œTheyâ€™re both such pure receivers,â€ Billick said. â€œThey are great route runners, their sense of timing and their hands. Thatâ€™s probably a fair comparison.â€
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times in Westminster, Maryland